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Free Minds & Free Markets

When Social Media Platforms Block Conservatives

The best answer to speech we don't like is: more speech.

Gloria Alvarez, the young woman from Guatemala I wrote about last week, just got blocked by Facebook. Why? Because she criticizes socialism.

After Alvarez joined me in my American studio to make a video we titled "Socialism Fails Every Time," she flew to Mexico City to make a speech.

A few days later she wrote me that "some leftist 'students' posted on a fanpage called 'Marxist and Leninist Memes': 'BOYCOTT Gloria Alvarez in our University! We won't let her in!'"

So Alvarez posted (in Spanish) on her own Facebook page: "My dear Mexican socialists intolerants: Thank you! for trying to boycott my event... showing that panic that you have for the debate of ideas. Given yours are so bad, that only with bullets they can be obeyed just like in Venezuela and Nicaragua. You demonstrate once again that you are the intolerant ones against freedom."

She ended her riff with a wise defense of free speech: "Where words are exchanged, bullets are no longer exchanged."

Then her account was blocked.

"You recently posted something that violates Facebook policies," wrote Facebook.

What violated Facebook policies? Was it calling the people who demanded that she not be allowed to speak "socialists intolerants" whose ideas "are so bad that only with bullets they can be obeyed"?

When social media companies block you, the reason is often mysterious.

Facebook did say, "For more information, visit the Help Center... (U)nderstand Facebook's Community Standards." Good luck getting an explanation that way.

Alvarez suspects she was blocked because her opponents, boycott advocates, complained about her. Leftists are good at launching campaigns to shut people up.

Fortunately, Alvarez has connections. A few days later she wrote, "a friend of mine that has a cousin working on Facebook Latin America (helped) me to unblock my page this morning."

Good.

Except, most of us don't have a friend whose cousin works for Facebook.

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media platforms promote themselves as sites that enhance communication, not censor it.

I shouldn't use the word "censor." When a private company blocks someone, it's called editing. Companies edit to increase civil communication, improve the quality of discussion, delete threats and lies, etc. Editing helps make their sites more pleasant places to visit.

Censorship and the First Amendment apply to governments. America's Founders feared government censorship because government can use force, and we have just one government.

But if Facebook blocks me, I still can communicate via Twitter, my YouTube videos, or Instagram.

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  • DajjaI||

    My FB account was suspended a few times, most likely because of complaints by Zionists. FB then says that you violated "Community Standards" but they don't tell you which ones or give any details. The only reason I suspect Zionists is because one of them actually posted the screenshot where FB tells them "Thank you for reporting this post. We have suspended the account." Yep - you are blocked out of your own account but others can still post to it, including abusive messages.

    The way it works as far as I can tell, is that the first violation they just warn you, and then for each subsequent violation they escalate suspension length for 1 day, 3 days, a week, a month, and then permanent lifetime ban. I am currently on 3 days. I have appealed the decision every time. Only once did they respond and say they made a mistake and restored my account. I blogged about these experiences if you are interested in the details.

    But yes, the problem isn't 'hate speech', but our failure to respond to it. Today due to the miracle of the internet we can fight hate from the comfort and safety of our living rooms, and yet instead we sign a petition berating Facebook for not doing enough and then go out for a drink and pat each other on the back for our activism. We have only ourselves to blame.

    One of the biggest threats right now is all the Holocaust museums are demanding that FB remove 'Holocaust denial'. Of course, that is pretty much anything they decide it is.

  • Rob Misek||

    Nobody wants to define hatred because it is their own lies.

    So they use whatever lobby pressure they have to protect their lies from everyone's truth, reality.

    There is only one solution, criminalize lying. Then all true hate speech will be criminalized and the liars will have nothing to protect.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    There is only one solution, criminalize lying.

    lol you're kidding right?

    can you even imagine what type of government monster that this would create?

  • Rob Misek||

    What a monster truth is and how benevolent are lies.

    You know damn well when you're lying so don't do it and you won't be prosecuted. That's how all laws work. Digital recording technology makes this one foolproof.

    Criminalizing lying will effectively end all corruption including hate speech. All you have to do is stop coercing people with your lies.

  • JWatts||

    " That's how all laws work. "

    That's a Lie, I'm going to have to report you to the Department of Truth for immediate action.

  • Rob Misek||

    Prove it with logic or science or face it, you're the one lying.

    Without evidence you're like some Meetoo bitch.

  • Don't look at me!||

    Sure are some messed up people these days.

  • vek||

    Actually, lots of "hate speech" can be completely factual. So much hate speech would be completely legal even in your "lie free" world.

    But for realz, just accept that such a proposal is impossible. Too many things are contestable. You cannot make it illegal to lie in all circumstances.

  • Rob Misek||

    Give any example of hatred that is not based on a lie.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    I hate peas.

  • Rob Misek||

    You blame the peas for your not liking them.

    Hatred is pretty stupid eh?

  • EscherEnigma||

    In the 90s, the Westboro Baptists were protesting the funerals of people that died from AIDS. When this didn't get them enough attention, they began protesting the funerals of dead soldiers in the 2000s.

    Because of this, I hate them.

    Where's the lie?

  • Rob Misek||

    Do you believe they acted correctly or wrongly?

    What do you think was wrong about their actions?

    In doing a wrong thing one must lie to themselves that the thing is actually right.

    Your hatred might be based on their lie.

    Get it?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Your hatred might be based on their lie.


    Nope.

    I am judging them based on their actions. Their motivations are irrelevant.

    You can hate for all sorts of reasons. Lies can be part of it. They don't have to be.

  • Rob Misek||

    Does your judgement have a reason?

    If you think not, you're being irrational and lying to yourself.

    If it does, what is the reason? It will be based on a lie.

  • Dace Highlander||

    The Democrats hate guns. Hatred that is not based on a lie.

  • Rob Misek||

    Why? It will be based on a lie.

  • vek||

    How about:

    According to FBI statistics black men are only about 6% of the population, but commit around 50% of murders in the USA, 35% of aggravated assaults, and disproportionate amounts for all other violent crimes as well. Therefore I suggest we deport every black man out of the country because they're just not worth the trouble of having around.

    That would be considered hate speech by many, correct? Yet those are in fact the figures as collected by the FBI. Saying they're not worth the trouble is a matter of opinion, not a statement of fact, hence cannot be a lie.

    So there ya go.

  • Rob Misek||

    I never said people didn't define hate incorrectly.

    If your statistics are true they aren't hatred although some may incorrectly think they are.

    Your desire to punish innocent people is hatred based on a lie that denies them due process.

  • vek||

    I'm just pointing out the futility of trying to regulate lying, OR hate speech.

    Those stats ARE true BTW. As for hatred, I wasn't saying that's what I'd do. But even if somebody were advocating for that, how is it hateful to simply make a rational argument that is not kind?

    The exact same argument could be used about Hispanic immigration, since they're also responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime. Is it hateful if it is being said about people BEFORE they come into the USA? People with no right to due process under US law?

    See, as a part Mexican myself, I don't have a problem with FACTS. Facts aren't always kind. Illegal Hispanics, not to be confused with LEGAL Asian immigrants (lefties lump stats together to look better for immigrants overall), commit more crimes than any ethnic group in the USA, other than blacks. Hate laws are BS, because lots of true things are "mean" in certain contexts.

  • Rob Misek||

    Our little discussion was about all hatred being based on lies.

    I took your example and everyone else's and demonstrated how the hatred was based on lies.

    All hatred is based on lies.

    All corruption is based on lies.

    Lying is already criminalized in court and in contracts for necessary reasons.

    If lying was criminalized everywhere, people might change their behaviour before they engage in more destructive criminality.

  • Hank Phillips||

    That was plank 23 in the National Socialist platform penned by Hitler in 1920. For a while there, those ideas were pretty popular among mystical altruist conservatives. It began: "We demand legal measures against the conscious political lie and its propagation through the press."

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Not only that, but this is the 23rd time (give or take) that Misek has called for lie crimes on Reason.

    Fuck the 1st Amendment, right Rob?

  • Rob Misek||

    Lying is the initiation of coercion.

    It should be illegal everywhere as it necessarily is in court and contracts.

  • EscherEnigma||

    How many men could still get laid if they couldn't tell lies, do you think? And I'm not just talking about single men, but married dudes too.

    So yeah, such a law, if actually enforced, would very quickly be repealed.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Coercion is compelling someone by force or threat. It does not require a lie.

    A lie, in and of itself, is not coercion

  • Rob Misek||

    Lying is a cowards coercion.

    When a person is too sneaky to openly threaten people to do what they have no reason to and wouldn't, they lie.

    They initiate misinformation that has the same result, is the same as, a threat.

  • MasterThief||

    If he's being genuine then I have to question whether he is 1 of 2 things. First likelihood is that he is autistic. That'd explain the fixation on such a small concept and the lack of understanding of alternative factors. The other is that he is kinda dumb and majoring in something like philosophy. I doubt the second just because those types like to use jargon to make their "insight" appear to be intelligent.

  • Rob Misek||

    You use rhetoric without evidence like some Meetoo bitch.

  • Rob Misek||

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I've never joined Faecebook, Nambla, CPUSA or the NSDAP, and am therefore pretty sure none of them will ever revoke me. There is something to be said for avoiding entangling alliances.

  • Psion||

    It isn't difficult to create a domain and launch a website of your own, these days -- in fact, it never has been. Most hosting services have plenty of tools to help with website creation, and there are extensive communities who can lend a hand with technical issues. The problem is the reliance people have developed on services like Facebook to get their messages out, and that gives large, centralized companies far too much control over that message.

    If you want to get your message out, talk about your ideas, or just tell a few stories, launch your own website. Add content and features to it over time. Don't let Google or Twitter or Facebook silence you.

  • DajjaI||

    I agree with you. Actually I launched my blog in 2011 because I kept getting banned from commenting on so many web sites. I got frustrated and so started my blog, which has been tremendously successful. However it's hard to get eyeballs without Facebook, twitter, google, etc. Of course they should be allowed to block whoever they want. For me it's not a legal issue. It's a moral issue: you can't say you are trying to prevent violence when you're attacking the peace makers. Also as a side issue, Germany has experience a rise in hate crime, and the reason is that they frequently ban people online for 'hate speech' and these people then act out irl, usually against immigrants. Again, it's hypocritical to claim a ban is done to prevent violence when it actually causes it.

  • Robert Crim||

    Your solution is admirable -- until one realizes that organizations like Twitter have become platforms even for government communication to voters. And, at that point, it breaks down. Twitter no longer is solely a private company that can do what it wants and has no more right to censor the Right than the electric company does. Twitter and company are advertising platforms, and their "freedom of speech" consists solely in that. They are not engaging in "free speech" by censoring those who actually are contributing the speech. What they are doing is tortuously interfering with communications from person A to person B.

    The simplistic argument that it's "their" platform simply doesn't apply. "Their" platform in all this is the right to sell you soap and not some right to declare defense of the Second Amendment or condemnation of Obamacare "violence" or "hate speech." To the extent they persist in such practices, inevitably they will find themselves in court.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    If right-wing extremists wish to be invited to participate in private forums they should ditch the white nationalism, stale misogyny, disgusting gay-bashing, shameful xenophobia, calculated mendacity, belligerent ignorance, and general mean-spiritedness and anti-social disaffectedness that disinclines decent, modern, accomplished Americans to wish to associate with them.

    In any event, they -- and their supporters -- should quit whining. And when I read a similar article from John Stossel about his objections to right-wing censorship (such as that practices on conservative-controlled campuses), I will begin to take his whimpering seriously.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • Dace Highlander||

    NPC conversation feedback loop at maximum.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    What the heck is this NPC stuff?

  • Qsl||

    Non Player Character.

    I see you are not much of a gamer.

    Essentially, The Rev.'s responses are more like a script than an actual response.

  • Here for the outrage||

    This is the best description of Rev I've seen thus far. Nothing he says relates to the article or what other people say. It's all just dumb trolling progressive talking points. NPC to the max

  • Don't look at me!||

    The rev is a bot. Pay no attendant.

  • Don't look at me!||

    *attention*
    I don't know why iPads became so popular.

  • vek||

    Yup. It's a newish meme. But a VERY truthful one. Which is why Twitter apparently banned a lot of the memes people had made! LOL Hit too close to home I guess.

    Fucking leftist tools. So weak.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    A faux libertarian posted a series of whiny right-wing talking points about how mainstream American meanies (and private businesses) do not wish to associate with backward, intolerant extremists. I observed that the disinvitations tend to be self-inflicted problems; that the complaints seem to be selective partisan whimpering rather than principled objections and that any problem could be solved by self-help.

    Some disaffected right-wingers would prefer to whine and bitch rather than to solve their problems.

    Carry on, clingers. Just don't expect to be invited to participate in the American mainstream unless you improve.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Arthur L. NPC spitting out his pre-programmed responses.

  • vek||

    Dude, seriously. Rev. is LITERALLY the PERFECT example of the NPC in action. And he doesn't even realize it. LOL

  • MasterThief||

    I'm not on twitter so am just vaguely aware of the controversy of the NPC meme. It seems to me to be a decent characterization of much of the activist left. They come across as unthinking individuals that spout lines only occasionally touching upon anything contextual. It goes right along with the tendency towards hivemind thinking.

  • newshutz||

    I suppose it could be non-player character, implying that they are not real, but I doubt it.

  • Red Tony||

    Welcome to Corneria!

  • Hank Ferrous||

    As slways Artie, you trot out your in-group's canarrds -everyone you w/ whom you disagree is an ist/phobe. All couched in what you think is an intellectual sounding language, rather than what it always is, an immature attempt to smear people. You have no argument, and you are not intelligent.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    My argument is that anti-social right-wingers should improve their conduct or expect that others will not wish to associate with them, as is the right of private businesses and individuals, at least from a libertarian perspective. Either way, they should quit whining about it.

  • DataDriven||

    Perhaps you could describe what you find backward and intolerant about Ms. Alvarez.

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|10.17.18 @ 7:33PM|#
    "My argument is that..."

    Your "argument", such as it is, amounts to idiotic assertions and self-righteousness, asshole.
    Fuck off.

  • Alcibiades||

    Still bitter, still clinging, still incoherent...the "barking carny" Rev never changes.

  • Robert Crim||

    I think the reverend would do quite well, living in the Seventeenth Century (one heard a lot of similar blabber from Anglicans hating Catholics and Puritans hating Anglicans and everyone hating the Quakers -- after all, they all had the one, true religion, right?).

    His argument, here, however, is self-defeating. John Stossel, to my knowledge, never has been party to "white nationalism, stale misogyny, disgusting gay-bashing, shameful xenophobia, calculated mendacity, belligerent ignorance, and general mean-spiritedness and anti-social disaffectedness that disinclines decent, modern, accomplished Americans to wish to associate with" him; and in any event, the proper way to deal with one claiming, e.g., that Negroes are inferior to Caucasians is not to deny access to platforms but to point out how, as a matter of biology, such simply makes no sense beyond observing that evolution operates on all animals, that human beings are animals, and that the sun shines brighter in Kenya than it does in Norway.

    As for the rest, note all the adjectives plus the total want of proof (as well as the obvious implication that the reverend is among the "decent," the "modern," and the "accomplished," viz., "the Elect").

    Which sounds like a Calvinist whacko to me.

  • Rob Misek||

    Public communication on social media is public not private.

    The company's themselves may be private but they are only hosting public communication.

    As such our rights to free speech apply to the forums of public communication hosted by companies like Facebook.

    The internet needs to be formally recognized as a digital public place. Then all our rights will have to be recognized and applied.

    Currently it's the Wild West where you have no rights other than what the sheriff of the backwards town recognizes.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    "formally recognized" = nationalization

  • Rob Misek||

    Rights = Nationalization

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    You want to turn their private property into a public forum. How is this not nationalization?

  • Rob Misek||

    My speech in public is not your property to censor regardless of whether it's digital or live.

  • Rob Misek||

    You want to privatize everything right?

    What will free speech mean then?

  • Kivlor||

    Dude, you're trying to argue against feudalism to people who mistakenly think they'll be the feudal lords.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    So let's hear your totally awesome solution, Kivlor

  • Rob Misek||

    I can't help it.

    It's like popping bubble wrap.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Free speech will mean what it has always meant - free from *government* censorship or *government* force. Private property owners can and should have the right to censor whatever views they wish on their own property, whether it is digital or physical property.

    The solution is competition in the realm of social media. There already is some competition, but right-leaning companies were late to the game. Should government step in and coerce Twitter to give up its property because companies like Gab can't attract the same following that Twitter can? Maybe the state should "level the playing field" and "redistribute the wealth" a little bit?

  • Azathoth!!||

    Free speech will mean what it has always meant - free from *government* censorship or *government* force.

    This is what the First Amendment covers. It isn't what free speech means. It is the recognition, that since speech MUST be free, the state must be completely constrained from limiting it.

    Do you think that the people who wrote this kind of thing believed that censorship should thereby be privatized?

    Private property owners can and should have the right to censor whatever views they wish on their own property, whether it is digital or physical property.

    I am not sure this is true. Let's do a test.

    Private property owners can and should have the right to murder whoever they wish on their own property, whether it is digital or physical property.

    Hmmm.

    Private property owners can and should have the right to rape whoever they wish on their own property, whether it is digital or physical property.

    Yeah. That doesn't work.

    While rape and murder are extreme examples, there are any number of things that are against the law or that violate people's rights that do not suddenly become okay when done on private property.

    A culture that enshrines private censorship will enshrine public censorship.

    And we have let the idea of private censorship bloom...which has, as it must, brought about a generation that clamors for public censorship.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Okay, Azathoth, let's see how this might play out. If we now declare an inalienable right to free speech at any time and on anyone's property, then if I invite you onto my property, and you decide to make an ass of yourself in your free speech expressions, I would have no legal recourse to kick you off my property for that reason alone. Would that be how you see things?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    So your view of "free speech" is actually a violation of property rights. No one can be removed from anyone's property based on speech alone.

    Furthermore it would be a violation of freedom of association rights - for if I chose to associate with you by inviting you onto my property, and then you decided to make an ass of yourself with your speech, I would be compelled to continue associating with you even though I would no longer wish to do so.

    So no, your concept of free speech is actually antithetical to liberty.

  • Oli||

    You completely leave out that everyone registered at Facebook signed a contract that effectively waives their free speech. They ACTIVELY AGREED that Facebook may at any time for any reason delete their content.

    As for your reductio ad absurdum: I wouldn't have any issue with a service that forces users to ACTIVELY AGREE that they can be murdered at any time for any reason. I don't think that service would be all that successful, since killing off your clients isn't that great of a business strategy, but in principle-- I'm perfectly fine with it.

    Don't like what Facebook is doing? Start Freebook. Or Murderbook. (As did some Reddit user with Voat, btw.)

  • MasterThief||

    You have something of a point, but it is easily countered. On private property murder may be permissable by law (to an extent) with regards to trespassing. Conviction of rape on private property can become more difficult to prove if the victim willingly went to the private property.
    I admit this doesn't go as far as to outright deny your comparison. Maybe I'm just not trying very hard since I also believe that these large communication platforms shouldn't be censoring. Private companies can do as they wish with their property so long as it doesn't violate law or bilateral agreement. Still, law works only so long as society agrees with the principles and upholds our rights. If private communications companies don't respect free speech then why would we expect the government to do so?

  • Oli||

    No, they should not be censoring. But that's our opinion, they are free to censor as much as they like. Anyone using their services agreed that they may be censored. If they want to censor every word containing an "a", they are free to do so.

    If you want a censor-free platform, you're free to not use Facebook . and look for or even create an alternative.

    "If private communications companies don't respect free speech then why would we expect the government to do so?"

    I really don't grasp your definition of free speech. I understand it as purely political concept to restrict the government's authoritarian power. As in: it is not, ever, to interfere in the free expression of individuals. I don't think it should (or even could reasonably) be applied to companies, without corrupting this original meaning.

  • Mickey Rat||

    They could also be held accountable in a civil action for breach of contract or fraud for misrepresenting themselves as open forums.

    Granted, that may be difficult with how much authority they gave themselves in their TOS.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Even "public forums" can kick someone out if the owner feels that the person is being disruptive. There's nothing magic in making a place generally open to the public that means you forfeit all your rights over controlling your space.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Strange how you have no problem with all those other public private spaces--i.e. every single business, rental property and service in the country--that have had control wrested from them by the government by public accommodation laws.

    Public accommodation laws that rarely seem to extend to those who flout the collective will of the left.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Please demonstrate where I have advocated in favor of public accommodation laws.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Oh wait, you just ASSUMED I advocate for public accommodation laws, because in your mind I am just a caricature of a proggie, not a real person.

    I guess that is what the NPC thing means?

  • Azathoth!!||

    You default to positions that support them, Jeff.

    There are no caricatures in my mind. To me, you are the sum of your comments, no less, no more. It is not 'you', it is 'chemjeff'.

    You espouse an 'individualism' that is way too accepting of abrogation-- to my mind --for the good of society.

    You accept action that is accomplished in the wrong manner as acceptable--even when it is pointed out that said action actually decreases liberty--because it has the appearance of the thing you wanted.

    Am I wrong?

    Or are you ready to say that you would love it if it was legal to not associate with black people because they're black in business and commercial transactions?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    I think racial discrimination should be legal, in the same sense that I think heroin use should be legal - exercising that liberty would be a terrible mistake in most cases, and I would never advocate that someone should choose to do so freely, but it nevertheless should not result in being thrown in a cage for doing so.

    So no, I wouldn't "love it" if it was legal not to associate based on skin color.

    There are no caricatures in my mind.

    This coming from the guy who creates an unfalsifiable hypothesis about "the Left", to wit: If they do something bad, they are evil; but if they do something good, they are lying/have corrupt motives, and therefore still evil.

  • Azathoth!!||

    I think racial discrimination should be legal

    Excellent!

    And you 'love' it because when it's open, it's flaws become obvious.

    Unfalsifiable?

    If they do something bad, they are evil; but if they do something good

    Ah, I see the issue.

    They never do anything good, Jeff. Ever.

    Because everything they do is designed to bind us further to the state.

    They have their own 'good' that they're pursuing, I will grant that. But to anyone who claims to be any kind of individualist, that 'good' is the gravest evil. Because one of the things they seek to eliminate is individuality.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    Azathoth!!, you know what businesses, rental properties, and service companies haven't had wrested from them? The power to utterly control speech on their premises. That has been the legal standard for centuries. Everyone is so used to it that only the few exceptions (a law in California, for instance, protecting speech in malls and airports) get noticed.

    But of course we aren't talking about premises, we are talking about publishing. Private editing is what makes publishing useful. That has been true for centuries, too. Lack of private editing on social media has degraded their usefulness to the point where disputes like this one threaten their freedom, and even their existence.

    The notion of unedited access to publishing—except insofar as the publisher is also the speaker, and thus legally responsible for defamation and copyright infringement—is a mistake which can't go on forever, and won't. When accustomed standards get re-asserted, it won't be a wrenching change. It will be a welcomed reversion to centuries-old customs which proved themselves among the best, most useful, and most widely practiced of civilized standards, world-wide.

  • Rob Misek||

    Do you authorize REASON to edit your comments?

    To completely misrepresent what you say?

    Why not, it's their prerogative and they're private and you're the dummy posting here when nobody forced you to?

  • EscherEnigma||

    @Azathoth!!

    Public accommodation laws that rarely seem to extend to those who flout the collective will of the left.


    Actually, a simmering legal issue for the past two decades has been exactly that: to what extend do public accommodation laws apply to websites.

    So far there have been a few "successes", mostly dating websites that were sued for excluding a protected class of people. But what y'all are arguing here is that discrimination on political or ideological grounds is what's happening, which isn't a protected class everywhere and is always a much harder argument.

    Even in California, where discrimination based on politics is prohibited, you have to argue that you were discriminated against because you're "Republican" (which would be disallowed), and not because you said "all liberals should die in a fire" (which would be allowed, as that's personal conduct-based discrimination, not class-based discrimination).

    To summarize, there is no (to my knowledge) SCOTUS precedent yet on whether public accommodation laws should apply to websites, and I honestly expect that when such a case gets there that the technical issues will go over their heads. But generally speaking, websites are not "public accommodations", though that may one day change.

  • Matrix||

    Not necessarily. But since they are no longer open to free speech, they should be held accountable for everything that is published on their websites. They were given a pass in the past because they said they were free and open to the public. But now they are targeting certain viewpoints. So they should be held liable for all slander, libel, threats, and terrorist recruitment or any other criminal and civil offenses. Get rid of their immunity.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    they should be held liable for all slander, libel, threats, and terrorist recruitment or any other criminal and civil offenses.

    The companies themselves are not responsible for "slander, libel, ", etc. The individual commenters are.

  • Matrix||

    Yes, and the website should also be responsible. They are exercising editorial control over the content of their sites by banning certain viewpoints that are perfectly legal

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    The websites aren't the one committing the fraud, which is what slander/libel would be.

  • JesseAz||

    Websites become publishers when they start to edit content. See Gawker and hogan.

  • JWatts||

    Exactly. As soon as they editorialize they become responsible to the content to some degree.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    Fraud, slander, and libel are all different legal concepts.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    chemjeff, in traditional ink-on-paper publishing the law was, (and still is) that the publisher is equally liable with the author. In practice, that has meant the publisher—as the party with assets, a reputation to protect, and a known address—is the principally liable party. That is exactly the standard which needs to be re-applied to internet publishing.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    Once they start actively policing and curating the opinions they allow they make themselves responsible for the opinions of the allowed commenters. They may not write it but allowing it to stand despite active enforcement means they in effect approve.

  • Rob Misek||

    Nobody but me has the right to take responsibility for what I say.

    That would give them the right to censor me which violates my right to free speech.

    This is the front line of a war.

  • Matrix||

    But they are censoring people... just certain groups. So if they are doing that, they can and should be held liable for what everyone says since they want to assume editorial control over the content users post on their sites.

  • Rob Misek||

    You're flushing down the litigious bowl.

    Don't censor me and we can avoid all that.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    Matrix, that is exactly the remedy which should be applied, and which will also have the welcome effect of scaling back internet giantism. Once the old accustomed publishing standards of liability for defamation and copyright infringement are put back in force, publishers will resume the obligation of reading everything they publish. The consequent shrinkage in what any publisher can manage will result in smaller publishing enterprises, far more of them, more variety of content, and more value for consumers. The social institution of publishing will be re-stabilized in a familiar model which has long-since passed the tests of time and usefulness.

  • Will Nonya||

    "it's the wild west" the uniquely American cry for restricting liberty to only those you condone.

    The first amendment only protects you from government censorship. Even recognized public utilities aren't empowered to restrict your speech on governments behalf.

  • Rob Misek||

    Public commentary on social media is public not private.

    Maybe the government will have to take over Facebook to guarantee our right to free speech.

    Is that what you want?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Maybe the government will have to take over Facebook to guarantee our right to free speech.

    Is that what you want?

    Sure sounds like it is what you want.

  • Rob Misek||

    I support the government using force to guarantee my right to free speech.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    Rob, God help you, and everyone, if folks can't see the paradox in what you say.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Paradox? That's what the governments been doing since there WAS a First Amendment.

    They're making sure free speech is not infringed.

    With force, if needed.

    Gods help us if there are more people as stupid as you who cannot see that.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    It's peculiar to be called stupid by someone who apparently supposes that the 1A empowers government to force any private publisher to accept and publish his contributions.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    The first amendment only protects you from government censorship.

    True, however, having misleading, deceptive, and fraudulent terms of service on your website is illegal. And we know that these sites have fraudulent terms of service because they claim that hateful speech gets you banned, and yet cretins like Sarah Jeong are allowed to get away with posting things like "kill all white men".

    It really ought to be an easy, slam dunk class action lawsuit.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    There you go! A class action suit on behalf of compelled speech by a private publisher. How libertarian of you.

    Think it over. Your problem isn't what you suppose. Your problem is that you are distressed because a few giant internet publishers have amassed what amounts to monopoly power. That's distressing, because if they choose to exercise that power against you and your preferred opinions, you have little or no alternative. No way to get around them. And no practical way to compete with them either.

    The remedy for that is to knock down the monopoly, not to reshape the laws and customs of speech and publishing, while putting its day-to-day practice in the hands of government. Stick with the free market solution of controlling monopoly. Don't look to government for benign control of speech.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    As such our rights to free speech apply to the forums of public communication hosted by companies like Facebook.

    You might need to touch up that faux libertarian costume.

  • Sevo||

    Rob Misek|10.17.18 @ 7:04AM|#
    "As such our rights to free speech apply to the forums of public communication hosted by companies like Facebook."

    Bullshit.

  • Drave Robber||

    Yet Youtube not only doesn't limit but actively promotes this 'dehumanizing' video.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    The solution to censorship is competition. Always was, always is.

  • JesseAz||

    You keep ignoring the editorial control issue at hand. Once editorial control is established the company can be liable for slander and such. Facebook is asking for legal protections as an open platform while not operating as an open platform. One day you'll get it.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Facebook is, rightly, asking not to be held liable for crimes, or frauds, that they did not commit.

    If I go on Facebook and say "JesseAz has carnal relations with equines", is Facebook responsible for that false statement? They weren't the ones making that claim.

    Think of the analogy in 'meatspace'. Suppose you invite me to a party at your house, and I loudly yell "your neighbor is a pedophile" and your neighbor hears it. YOU did not make that claim, I did. So who should the neighbor sue? You? That is what you are arguing.

    Arguing that Facebook should be held liable for false statements made on their platform based on language in DMCA, or some Florida court decision regarding Gawker, seems like trying to find loopholes to 'go after' Facebook et al. without examining the consequences, or even examining whether those types of loopholes ought to exist in the first place.

  • Don't look at me!||

    If I moon someone while in the backside of your car, you get the ticket.

  • Azathoth!!||

    If I go on Facebook and say "JesseAz has carnal relations with equines", is Facebook responsible for that false statement? They weren't the ones making that claim.

    What part of this aren't you getting?

    Facebook is NOT responsible if they haven't been editing--I.e., ANYONE can say ANYONE has been having carnal relations with equines.

    Facebook IS responsible if they HAVE been editing--i.e. choosing who gets to say who has carnal relations with equines.

    Because they're making content choices.

    And they're pretty clearly making content choices.

    So they're responsible for what they choose to leave up. Because they could get rid of it, not doing so means they support it.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    No, you're dodging the question.

    If I post something false on Facebook, even if Facebook decides to exercise editorial judgment on some other content, Facebook is not responsible for my unedited comment that I post there.

    So they're responsible for what they choose to leave up. Because they could get rid of it, not doing so means they support it.

    No, that logically just does not follow. Once again: imagine that you invite me onto your property. My presence on your property does not necessarily mean that you must agree with everything that I say.

  • Azathoth!!||

    You aren't Facebook, Jeff.

    Facebook, as part of their legal existence, has agreed to certain terms. One of them is that, so long as they are simply providing a platform, they are not liable for what people say from that platform.

    They have also embedded a commitment to this stance in their ToS.

    But they are not abiding by it.

    Instead, they are editing what people say from their platform to provide a particular point of view.

    Let's use your formulation--

    Imagine that you invite me onto your property. My presence on your property does not necessarily mean that you must agree with everything that I say.

    This is absolutely correct. But we're not talking about what happens between me and you. We're talking about what a third party sees.

    We're talking about the fact that you're using my property to incite people to go out and kill people you don't like.

    I could stop you, but I don't. I SAY I don't support what you're doing, but I do nothing to hinder you. Instead, I stop people who are trying to stop you.

    To an outside observer, can I still claim impartiality?

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    chemjeff, you really need to review the law of defamation. There are a few centuries of law and precedent which contradict pretty much everything you suppose.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You keep ignoring the editorial control issue at hand.

    You keep getting your principles and legal analysis from discount homeschooling outlines and low-grade blogs.

  • Qsl||

    The issue isn't censorship exactly (if people were posting kiddie porn, almost no one would be outraged Facebook deleted the accounts), but "community standards" is purposely vague, highly subject to interpretation, and open for abuse.

    If anything, people should be demanding Facebook and the like make clear exactly what will get you banned so people know the ground rules before even making an account, and if the platform isn't a good fit for their content, they can go elsewhere. Right now, Facebook plays both sides, deleting accounts for breaking their guidelines, but never making clear what those guidelines were in the first place.

    I almost hate to say it, but some consumer protection laws would be in order here.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    In essence, this is no different than going into a restaurant that has a reputation for inconsistent quality of food. That lack of consistency alone can be a reason not to go to the restaurant. As long as it's not outright fraud (i.e., presenting tuna as salmon) or dangerous food, there is no reason for consumer protection laws. There's an opportunity for another company to steal business away from Facebook by making the pitch for consistent standards. After all that is why chain restaurants are so successful - the food might not be great, but at least you know what you are getting.

  • Qsl||

    Because restaurants typically don't have a click through agreements that state should you come down with food poisoning, find out the New York strip is actually horsemeat ("we never said it was beef"), or that the Employees Must Wash Hands signs are strictly novelty items, they are in no way responsible. Caveat emptor and all that jazz.

    Except (as Ken Whatshisname points out), it is very much a contract, and therefore subject to contract law. Unilateral contracts regularly get declared null and void, with courts deciding why yes, you can copy that floppy, you can repair your car somewhere other than the dealership without voiding your warranty, and you can have all changes to the terms of service be notified in advance.

    Essentially this will come down to either the legislature clarifying what is legal for the terms of service or the courts. I, in my misguided optimism, trust the legislature to have a better grasp of the issues at play.

  • Don't look at me!||

    ... trust the legislature..
    Right there is your problem.

  • Sevo||

    Qsl|10.17.18 @ 9:25AM|#
    "...Essentially this will come down to either the legislature clarifying what is legal for the terms of service or the courts. I, in my misguided optimism, trust the legislature to have a better grasp of the issues at play."

    Your 'argument' is bullshit and your optimism is that of a slaver and an idiot.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    chemfjeff, not much opportunity to compete with internet giants already established on the double basis of legal privileges and network effects. They already control the advertising market almost completely, by virtue of practical monopoly. Publishing depends on advertising. You want to start your own Facebook look-alike? No law against it. But economically, that is going to require, at this point, at least tens of billions of dollars while you try to recruit audience to match the established network effects. Good luck.

    Make it a point to notice. Each new successful social media company which has made it big has offered a unique business model, different than the ones used by successful predecessors. To a surprising degree, newcomers even recruit unique audiences. That's the only way to get your foot in the door given present realities. Doing it barely rises to the level of real competition for the predecessors. It's more like parallel play. And how many more unique business models are out there to be discovered?

    Healthy media need head to head competition to keep them that way. Get rid of government-privileged monopolies by striking down Section 230.

  • Sevo||

    Stephen Lathrop|10.17.18 @ 12:58PM|#
    "They already control the advertising market almost completely, by virtue of practical monopoly"

    You are full of shit.

  • AustinRoth||

    The issue is not Facebook, Twitter, etc., per de, but the combination their opaque rules for banishment and the Left's intolerance of dissent to their opinions.

    They have learned to weaponize these by consitantly reporting views they dislike in a coordinated attack ( NPC-style), and count on little oversight of the reporting mechanisms, combined with the bias that exists in those organizations, to do the dirty work for them.

    The Right on the otherhand, as a whole is more tolerant of dissent, and does not try to shut it down via organized suppression (when was the last march/riot you can cite on a campus or in a city by Rightwingers demanding that a speaker be denied the right to express their views?)

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The Right on the otherhand, as a whole is more tolerant of dissent, and does not try to shut it down via organized suppression

    That explains why conservative-controlled campuses are distinguished by their imposition of speech codes, suppression of science and dissent, collection of loyalty oaths, rejection of academic freedom, teaching of nonsense, enforcement of conduct codes, and demands of overt tribute to dogma.

    Some of you guys are dumb as a box of rocks . . . or a Wheaton grad.

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|10.17.18 @ 7:38PM|#
    "That explains why conservative-controlled campuses are distinguished by their imposition of speech codes, suppression of science and dissent, collection of loyalty oaths, rejection of academic freedom, teaching of nonsense, enforcement of conduct codes, and demands of overt tribute to dogma."

    Do you try to out-do your idiocy on a daily basis, asshole?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Arthur L. Hicklib still mad that a Wheaton grad outsmarted him.

  • Just the Tip||

    I don't understand the argument that these platforms should allow all speech and not arbitrarily close down accounts. They are private enterprises and can allow/disallow whatever content they want. How is this different than allowing a restaurant (or a cake baker, for that matter) to decide who they provide service to? I see a lot of the same people who complain about the gay wedding cake coercion (rightly so) complaining now about accounts being shut down. Where is the consistency?

    It has been mentioned above but I agree and will say it again: the solution is market competition, not government coercion. The same goes for public accommodation laws. There is no free speech issue here.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    It's not a free speech issue, it's a false advertising issue.

    Jack Dorsey and his nasty little minions have every right in the world to run a lefties-only, no-conservatives-welcome-here web service, but they have to make it clear that that's what they are. They're not allowed to imply that all opinions are welcome there, and then proceed to shadowban all conservatives. That's called deception and fraud.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    It's called deception and fraud by you, but not by the government, nor by the law. The problem really is monopoly. Don't add to that a further problem by endorsing compelled speech. Just go for free market solutions, and break up the monopolies.

  • Sevo||

    Stephen Lathrop|10.17.18 @ 1:01PM|#
    "It's called deception and fraud by you, but not by the government, nor by the law. The problem really is monopoly."

    There are no monopolies; that's a lie.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    Sevo, if you are right, and you can round up a few hundred thousand dollars to hire good programmers, you are only a few months from becoming a billionaire. Just imitate Facebook. If it hasn't monopolized the advertising for that kind of publishing, your potential wealth knows no bounds.

    My guess, you aren't stupid enough to believe a successful Facebook imitator is a practical business possibility. You do know you couldn't find advertisers who would forego Facebook to buy from little start-up you. You know Facebook's monopolistic control of networking advantages in that advertising market enables far, far better deals for advertisers than you, or anyone, could offer in competition.

    So why the vituperation? I suspect you are heedlessly defending some sort of ideology to which Facebook's existence suggests reproof. But who knows?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Stossel is to blame for Alvarez being blocked in papist Mexico. So long as looter Altrurians could pretend she was another porn-grade bimbo reading prompt cards to spraypaint a libertarian-sounding veneer over a return to head-knocking Nationalsocialist prohibitionism (as on PragerU), she could be safely ignored. But once she came out as a freethinking intellectual declaring that even women had inalienable individual rights, the gauntlet was thrown. Latin America has needed to hear from someone like Ayn Rand ever since Mussolini and the Pope signed the Lateran Treaty. Now alluva sudden the looters cover their ears and holler "I can't hear you, nanny nanny boo boo." What would Edward Bellamy, Che Guevara and Jack London think of today's limp-wristed looter intelligentzia?

  • Azathoth!!||

    I love Stossel to death

    But I haven't seen enough data to convince me that the sites actively limit conservative speech alone

    But no one's saying this.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Fortunately, Alvarez has connections. A few days later she wrote, "a friend of mine that has a cousin working on Facebook Latin America (helped) me to unblock my page this morning."

    The rule of men, not law.

  • Hank Phillips||

    This is reminiscent of the statues war. Communist Lenins that had served as shrines to weaponized altruism all over Europe were suddenly stripped of bodyguards when socialism collapsed. Mobs pilloried them and tore them down. So the looters infiltrating These States now attack statues of Revenue-Only-Tariff Confederates as if they represented Legree selling mulatta girls at auction. Alvarez is breaking free of nazi conservatism, so the looters now HAVE to attack her as a monument to something selfish. She is probably insulted at being tarbrushed a conservative.

  • Uncle Jay||

    The Big Tech giants have the right idea in censoring people who don't go along with their socialist totalitarian views.
    This is what Lenin did.
    This is what Hitler did.
    This is what Stalin did.
    This is what Mao did.
    This is what Castro did.
    If its good enough for these five wonderful, humane, tolerant and accepting dictators, it should be good enough for any tech CEO.

  • GoatOnABoat||

    If a handful of companies hold a monopoly on communication, at what point does editing become censorship?

  • Sevo||

    GoatOnABoat|10.17.18 @ 4:39PM|#
    "If a handful of companies hold a monopoly on communication, at what point does editing become censorship?"

    If it is a "handful of companies", it is, by definition, NOT a monopoly.
    Even if it was one company, the government can do nothing: Read this again, idiot:
    "Congress shall no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech..."
    NO LAW. Is that clear?

  • GoatOnABoat||

    Ok let me simplify it. What if a single company controls all platforms of communication and decides that they're not going to allow certain types of speech? And what if Congress then creates a law that that says all speech must be allowed?

  • GoatOnABoat||

    Oh and if you want to parse words... Yes, a group of companies can hold a monopoly over something.

  • Rob Misek||

    Does anyone here authorize REASON to EDIT your comments?

    To completely misrepresent what you say?

    Why not, it's their prerogative and they're private and you're the dummy posting here when nobody forced you to?

    Then why are you OK when Facebook edits others?

  • Sevo||

    Rob Misek|10.17.18 @ 4:45PM|#
    "Does anyone here authorize REASON to EDIT your comments?
    To completely misrepresent what you say?
    Why not, it's their prerogative and they're private and you're the dummy posting here when nobody forced you to?"
    Your last sentence is 100% correct; the two earlier ones are irrelevant bullshit.

    "Then why are you OK when Facebook edits others?"
    Fuck off, slaver.

  • randall||

    Facebook and Google should not be able to have it both ways. They claim that as a platform, they are protected from government regulation by 47 Code, Section 230 (c)(1) of the Community Decency Act which states that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

    The term "information content provider" means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service (47 Code, Section 230 (f)(3)). That would be YOU, ME, and Gloria Alvarez.

    Seems to me like Facebook and Google ARE acting like publishers. The government should regulate them as a publisher because that is EXACTLY how they are behaving. Our leaders need to grow a pair and push the issue. If they don't, it will be censorship as usual at FB and Google.

  • Sevo||

    "Seems to me like Facebook and Google ARE acting like publishers. The government should regulate them as a publisher because that is EXACTLY how they are behaving. Our leaders need to grow a pair and push the issue. If they don't, it will be censorship as usual at FB and Google."

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • ||

    As I've said elsewhere, illiterate punks run these companies.

  • ||

    "Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that, telling CNN, "We need to constantly show that we are not adding our own bias, which I fully admit is more left-leaning.""

    You're not smart enough, pal.

    How about just, you know, backing off and stop taking users for fools. It doesn't take a fucken genius to know, for example, Nick Di Paolo doesn't engage in hate speech you douche bag. But there you asshole go 'shadow banning' him. And then you stay stupid shit like that?

    Twitter and Facebook. Fuck off and die.

  • DRS||

    I'm not normally one for advocating for "protected class" legislation but, since politics is the art of the possible, perhaps adding speech as a protected class in the civil rights act of 1964 would be a less heavy handed solution than treating social media like a public utility. The constitutional argument, for political speech in particular, being protected , like free exercise of religion, is far clearer than the one for race or sex enshrined in the civil rights act.

    Facebook, Google, etc are public accommodations (by our present understanding...not that I agree) and by law cannot discriminate against a protected class. Let the aggrieved use the courts (and their own financial interest) to keep them in check without creating a new bureaucratic solution.

  • vek||

    This is actually the simplest legal way to do it.

    I'm really torn on the whole idea, because I don't like regulations... I'd rather have public accommodation laws eliminated versus apply them ever further... But we're really in a win, or we're going into eternal darkness moment about now historically I think...

  • vek||

    I think one of the things that pisses people off so bad about this all is this:

    There is not a SINGLE large internet company that ISN'T displaying obvious SJW/left wing bias.

    I think if saaay Google were staying neutral, but Facebook was being all SJWey, people would be a lot less pissed. But Google IS manipulating search results. They're mass banning and/or demonetizing on YouTube. Amazon won't let you sell certain books, or t-shirts, etc on there that offend lefties.

    So it's basically that the ENTIRE internet. If it were a mixed bag, I don't think people would be freaking out. But it's not.

    And unless/until it stops being EVERY SINGLE MAJOR TECH COMPANY, I don't see this issue going away. It seems like they're just stepping up their censorship even more. Funny that they were fairly WTF ever with this stuff RIGHT up until the right started owning the shit out of them on the internet too.

    I do hope the market can take these guys out... But they're so entrenched at this point, and have the entire media, finance, etc behind them... So it'll be a tough road, if not impossible for a Gab.ai or bitchute.com or whatever to really become a proper competitor.

  • Rob Misek||

    So when you don't understand something, you just wish it would go away.

    Like that "fuck off slaver" bozo obfuscating these discussions.

    There's a lot of that going on around here.

  • vek||

    Not even sure what you mean... Are you saying that because I said I hope the market takes them out?

    I do. Because in theory it SHOULD eventually... Except they are not fully subject merely to market forces, because entrenched powers are backing them over competition for political reasons.

    If the problem becomes severe enough, action may be warranted. I don't know that we're there yet though. I don't always reach for my Nuclear Option the second a problem comes up... I don't think that makes me crazy.

  • Rob Misek||

    You said you were torn on the issue.

    Then you lamented that the issue should go away.

    When an issue is understood one is no longer conflicted about it and there is no reason to wish it would go away. But that's just reality.

  • Robert Crim||

    I know all the libertarian arguments here, but I seriously question their application. Firms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, &c. are NOT in the business of "free speech" (they are advertising platforms which, as part of the "bait," provide OTHERS with freedom of speech). And, because operations like Twitter increasingly have become platforms for even the government to communicate with the citizenry, allowing these organizations freedom to censor whoever they want (because they "own" the platform) really is no assertion of their rights.

    In my opinion, a right of action against these organizations exists for any who are injured by these policies, and the fines and awards should be substantial to quickly put an end to the practice. Furthermore, if that's not the law, then it ought to be. As advertising platforms, whenever these organizations block this or that user, they cut communication not just between the user and other users but between the user and the advertisers. Which is self-defeating.

    That also should be tortious.

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